When family ties separate us
Guernsey has traditionally exported its teenagers for further education, job opportunities or life skills. Some of them return sooner or later, some of them won’t. It’s well recognised.
New visitors to the island who are aware of some of the issues traditionally facing small island communities can be surprised, however, to see so many young adults in Guernsey doing well for themselves. For all its challenges, this is not a community without ambition and aspiration.
More concerning are figures contained in the latest electronic census report, which show a sharp rise in emigration in the retirement age bracket.
Pre-Covid it was responsible for less than 5% of all departures from the island. Last year that figure had more than doubled. It’s the kind of thing that has become, as the figures, suggest, more prevalent, but never laid out this starkly.
The new trend is for islanders whose children don’t return with young families, because they see no opportunity for themselves to own a home in the island, now to head out to their neck of the woods instead, to be closer to grandchildren, and sometimes to make their retirement pounds go further in a place where you get greater housing bang for your buck.
Which makes it understandable, though clearly disappointing.
Economically one might argue that the island benefits from this emigration – taking tax from an individual throughout their working life before bidding them farewell at a time when they might start to use our public services, especially health, more heavily.
But when the people who built the Guernsey we know today are being ‘priced out’ of their own island and desire to be closer to their families, it doesn’t bode well for the traditional Guernsey way of life.